Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mark 1:21-28 - The authority of Jesus - Jesus drives out an Evil Spirit - Pete's Bible Commentary

Mark 1:21-28 (Jesus drives out an evil spirit with authority). - 21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
   25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. 

Could you imagine listening to a teaching segment from Jesus? You get the picture here, that it was inspiring, moving and powerful. Mark doesn't highlight to us in this passage, what he spoke about, but rather the manner in which he spoke. He spoke with authority (Gk: exousia), and so captured the ears of those in attendance at the synagogue. He didn't speak like the teachers of the law. I wonder what that was like? Maybe dry, lifeless, and hard to follow with the continual offloading of words from the Torah to the listeners. There was something different about Jesus and his message, and people were amazed by it. 

What is interesting, is that no only were the words of Jesus amazing and powerful, but the ministry of Jesus was also worth noting. Maybe they go hand in hand: powerful teaching -> powerful ministry. A man was possessed by an impure spirit/unclean spirit (Gk: pneumati akatharto), and by the authority of Jesus, the unclean spirit came out of the man. So in this passage from Mark 1:21-28 Jesus had authority to speak powerfully, and he had authourity to cast out evil spirits.

The New Bible Dictionary defines authority (Gk: exousia) as, 'rightful, actual and unimpeded power to act, or to possess, control, use or dispose of, something or somebody (1982 :108).

Mark shows the authority of Jesus is various passages in his gospel. We see him mention the authority of Jesus in the following passages:
  • Mark 1:22 -'He taught as one who had authourity'
  • Mark 1:27 - 'What is this? A new teaching - and with authority!'
  • Mark 2:10 - 'But I want you to know that the son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.'
  • Mark 3:15 - '...and to have authority, to drive out demons.'
  • Mark 6:7 - '...he gave them [the disciples] authority...'
  • Mark 11:28-33 - A passage all about what authority Jesus had to do ministry

What can we glean from this for us today? As a preacher, it is easy for me to look at this and say, 'I want to preach with the kind of authority Christ preached with'. Maybe that is relevant for you, but maybe you aren't a preacher. We all have opportunities at time to speak about our faith, or the Bible, or why we believe in the existence of God, and in these circumstances, WE need the authority (the exousia) from God to speak with clarity and boldness, those words that are right for the moment we are in. Not only that, but if we find ourselves close to Christ, and empowered by his Holy Spirit, we might find ourselves in ministry of casting out unclean spirits (exorcisms, if you like). We need not be afraid of such times, because we lean on the authority that Jesus has, and the authority that Mark is so clearly wanting to express to his readers. 

Douglas, J. D. et al. (1982). New Bible Dictionary. 2nd Edition. England: Inter-Varsity Press.

Mark 1:21-28 - the authority of Jesus, is part of Pete's Bible Commentary, written by Pete Brookshaw.

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